Try “Job Shaping” Before “Job Hunting”

On July 29, 2015, in Career Insight, by Walker News

Most of us are familiar with terms like “job transition,” “job hunting,” “job satisfaction,” and “job hopping.” But have you ever heard of “job shaping”?

Before we break down this new term, consider the causes and effects of discontent in your job. Maybe your work is dull and lacks challenge. Or it could be you’re trying to fit a 12-hour day into 10. Or possibly your current job isn’t preparing you for greater responsibility and growth. When we feel these kinds of stresses on the job, we often turn to two options:

  1. Transitioning into a new job or role within the organization.
  2. Leaving the organization all together.

But we (and the organizations we work for) rarely think about what could be achieved by giving energy and thought to shaping our career.

So, what does “job shaping” mean? First, it means thinking about what aspects of the job currently do work for you. What duties give you joy and energy? Once you have identified these positive aspects of your job, look around and ask yourself how you could use them to enhance, fix or solve business problems. This will help you begin to “take shape” of what is best about your job and where you want to invest more time and energy. Now, if you can’t truthfully identify ANY aspects of the job that you enjoy, you probably should become a job hunter instead of a job shaper. But hopefully it’s the latter!

Continuing on – once you’ve identified the new shape you want your job to take, it’s time to communicate. Your performance review might be a good place to start a conversation about new goals, problems you would like to solve for the organization, etc. Collaborate with your boss in considering what kinds of problems you would like to solve for the organization, thus “officially” shaping/reshaping your job and career development.

I know that many of you already feel overworked, so the thought of adding a process like “job shaping” to your plate might feel overwhelming. If so, start thinking about shaping your career progress in small steps. Simply squeezing in 10 to 15 minutes into your day can be all you need to really jumpstart this process.

And in even better news, this August I’ll introduce you to a new St. Louis network that will help you develop strategies for shaping your job and career. So stay tuned…


david hults-web

David Hults is a renowned Career Coach, Author and Speaker. Purchase his latest book at and receive a free online change behavior assessment. Learn more about how he can activate your career at Follow David’s blog at

George Herbert Walker III

George Herbert Walker III

In an interview with former U.S. Ambassador George Herbert Walker III, he discusses his affiliation with Webster University and the importance of an international presence in the business community. A St. Louis native and a long-time supporter of Webster University, Ambassador Walker’s contributions resulted in the naming of the School of Business & Technology to the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology. Watch this interview for insights from Ambassador Walker.

Quitting Your Job? The Rules for Resigning

On June 30, 2015, in Announcements, by Walker News

Owner, PhotographerOn his last day as dean of the Walker School, Benjamin Akande shared his rules for resigning.  The most important rule, he says, is not to burn bridges.

Akande’s rules for resigning appeared in the Nov. 18, 2007 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Read the article for his insights.


Back (L-R): Janka Ribando, International Admissions Coordinator; Rebecca Spear, Director WSBT Corporate Partnership Engagement & Internships; Ragan Dueker, Webster alum 2012; Trezette Dixon, Assistant Director, Employer Relations
Front (L-R): Khanh Vu, Webster alum 2015; Suhani Fernando, Webster alum 2015; Khanh Bui, Webster alum 2015; Ngoc Troung, Webster alum 2015

Students and staff from Webster University attended St. Louis Mosaic Project’s Partners for Prosperity event on June 15. The event celebrated individuals and corporations who are helping transform St. Louis into the fastest growing major metropolitan area for immigration.

Given Webster University’s global footprint, the institution is proud to partner with St. Louis Mosaic on international-focused initiatives. Such initiatives include helping international students, university international student offices, university career services offices, and hiring organizations attract and retain more of the 9,000 international students who are studying in our region’s universities.

About St. Louis Mosaic
The St. Louis Mosaic Project was launched in 2012 in response to an economic impact report, outlining St. Louis to be lagging in immigrant growth as well as highlighting the economic benefits of increasing its foreign-born population. The Mosaic Project is a regional initiative that is professionally managed by St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, World Trade Center St. Louis and a 22-member committee. Its goal is to transform St. Louis into the fastest growing major metropolitan area for immigration by 2020 and to promote regional prosperity through immigration and innovation.  Learn more at



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When We Leave What We Love

On June 18, 2015, in Announcements, by Walker News

Owner, PhotographerComments from Benjamin Ola. Akande, PhD at Webster University’s Farewell Reception
June 17, 2015

I want to thank you for this warm and heartfelt reception. Webster University has been a real love affair for me and my family. When we came here from West Texas in the summer of 2000, we came to a new and different place, an exciting environment that was somewhat ahead of the place we came from. We found an institution that was tucked away in the suburbs called Webster Groves, yet it had vibrancy; it was diverse; it was enlightened; it embraced people from different places far and wide, and it embraced us. Anjola, now 20, was a little child, and Reni was still hanging out with God, waiting to be introduced to the world – our world.

Here I was, a Nigerian with an accent, who had lived most of my life in Texas and Oklahoma, now in a place and working at an institution that embodied so much of who I am. It was so easy to fall in love.

Chancellor Neil George, vice president of academic affairs at the time, was the person who recruited me to Webster. He was compellingly convincing and offered me the ultimate opportunity to take Webster’s business school to its rightful place among respectable business schools worldwide. You see, Neil’s charge to me was clear as daylight: although we were already a large business school with a huge enrollment (9,000+), his aspiration was that we would validate ourselves through a high quality curriculum, a higher profile and results that were evident in our students’ ability to be productive and meaningful participants in their chosen field.

At Webster, I found a community of faculty and staff who took ownership of their institution. I discovered a place full of possibilities, an academy that was not content with its success but truly hungry to do more. The Webster community was extraordinarily sophisticated with a presence in small places like Lawton, Oklahoma, and large places like Vienna and Shanghai. As I traveled throughout the world of Webster, what I found were people with similar characteristics, a profound love to develop others, a commitment to excellence and a passion for their job and for Webster.

It’s been 15 years of wonderfulness, and our collective success was enabled by you who led from where you are. We all knew what our role was and understood that the very existence of our Webster was dependent on our ability to build a vibrant community of students because they are our endowment. It was a singular purpose that did not have to be vocalized, we did not have to be reminded.

So why am I leaving the place I love so much? Well, it is a demonstration of my confidence that we have folks who will carry the torch. They will adjust; reinvent; and challenge the status quo. They will seek to make this institution even better. They say that if you really love something, then set it free and watch it stretch its wings and do great things.

There have been two W’s in my professional life, Wayland Baptist University and Webster University, and now I go to the third W – Westminster College. From Wayland to Webster and then to Westminster, I will take with me that sense of purpose and constructive impatience – part of my heart remains at Wayland and a part is here at Webster. And I am hopeful that the future will bring the same kind of love and affinity for my new home at Westminster.

So let it be said that I will always love Webster and cherish all the memories and the people who enabled these past 15 years to be some of the best times of my life. I heard a comment a few days ago that resonated with me: “Home is the place where we remember our past and those who made our life such a joy.” Webster will always be home to me.

Dr. Stroble, faculty and staff, there are many ways to say goodbye, but tonight I elect not to use any of them. I will simply say thank you on behalf of Bola, Moyo, Anjola and Reni. I appreciate you so much and God bless you.


Watch the video

On June 9, faculty, staff, family and friends came together to celebrate Dean Benjamin Ola. Akande and wish him well as he transitions to his new role as President of Westminster College. During the farewell reception, guests congratulated Akande and shared some of their favorite memories of him.  Watch the video and view photos from the event.

Following the video and formal comments, Dean Akande thanked guests for their support and took the opportunity to reflect on his time at Webster University.  Read his speech below.

“What We Did Together”
Comments from Benjamin Ola. Akande


Dean Benjamin Akande with his wife, Bola, and daughter, Anjola

Shortly after I began my tenure as Dean of the Walker School 15 years ago, one of my mentors suggested I take time out of my very busy first few days and write my resignation letter.

He advised me to make it short and meaningful. He suggested that I speak briefly of our accomplishments, thank folks far and wide and update it from time to time and then tuck it away until I needed it some day in the distant future. He said the letter would help me accomplish two objectives: one, it would offer an opportunity to establish my goals and priorities; and two, it would keep me focused on what I intended to accomplish as dean.

A few weeks ago I went looking for the letter in our basement. If you would be so kind to indulge me, I’d like to share it with you now:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I always had a feeling that this day would come. And when this day finally came, my hope is that it would be a bittersweet experience. It will be a day to highlight our successes to review the challenges we overcame and even chat about those challenges that stumped us.

I am proud of the fact that together we transformed Webster University into a globally competitive, student-centered institution. And, yes, Webster is a better place and this is in large part because together we stayed focused on the reason for our existence – our students. My friends, I leave you knowing that Webster University is in good hands, and our reputation is strong.



A few weeks ago at a reception in Leiden, the Netherlands, I ran into Beer Brinker, a Webster alumnus and emerging entrepreneur in the bakery business in Europe and Asia. Incidentally, Beer’s great-great grandfather invented margarine. Just before leaving the reception, Beer said to me: “Dean Akande, even though your time at Webster has ended, your work here at Webster is not over. Think of folks like me you have taught and maintained relationships with since 2005.” Beer’s statement, the smiles on the faces of attending students, faculty, staff, alumni and all those who have achieved their goals here at Webster is a measurement of our collective success.

As I depart Webster, I ask that you join me in continuing to carry the Webster banner with pride and nurturing and treasuring the transformative relationships we have made with our peers and colleagues. On behalf of my family, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love and support you have shown us over the years. You were our first family in St. Louis, and while we are moving away from this incredible place to begin the next chapter of our life’s journey in Fulton, we will never forget our colleagues at Webster and the fine people of St. Louis. I’d like to ask one favor of all of you: that you remember my favorite African proverb that if you want to go fast, you will have to go alone; but if you want to go far, then we must go together.

I believe that Webster’s best days are ahead, and I know each one of you will play a vital role in taking this university to even greater heights. You will continue to change lives, just like you have changed mine. And for that, I will forever be grateful. And for my friends from St. Louis and around the nation who have honored us with your presence tonight, thank you for embracing my family and treating us like we went to high school here. We are grateful to you for making the last 15 years the most wonderful, exhilarating experience of our lives.

God bless you all.

Thank you.


tom-johnsonThomas Johnson, associate vice president and chief of strategic initiatives at Webster University, has been named interim dean of Webster’s George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology.

Since arriving at Webster University in 2012, Johnson has spearheaded several strategic initiatives, including identifying and executing market- and student-responsive opportunities such as the creation of the University’s cybersecurity program.

“Dr. Johnson is a natural fit to lead the Walker School during this leadership transition,” said Julian Schuster, Webster’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer.

“His work with academic programs and faculty at Webster, as well as his extensive previous experience in higher education, in the governmental sector and in science and technology will serve Webster’s largest school well.”

Johnson previously served as dean of the College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven for 13 years, during which time he worked with faculty to develop new programs in the areas of national security, digital forensics and advanced investigation. In the governmental sector, he has developed programs in criminal justice, national security, emergency management, occupational safety and health, and fire science. He has also trained law enforcement agents and prosecutors from more than 30 countries in areas such as computer crime and advanced investigations.

After serving as dean at the University of New Haven, Johnson co-founded the California Sciences Institute, delivering PhD research programs in national security and digital computer forensics. He earned a bachelor of science degree with honors and a master of science degree from the School of Public Administration and Public Safety at Michigan State University and a doctoral degree from the School of Criminology at the University of California – Berkeley.

Johnson has published seven books, 13 referred articles; holds copyright on four software programs and his chapter on “Infrastructure Warriors: A Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” was published by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. In addition to lecturing at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, he has also lectured at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and numerous universities.

Johnson will begin transitioning to his new role immediately and will fully assume interim dean duties on July 1. Current dean Benjamin Akande has been named the president of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, effective July 1.

Centennial Logo4_single_Kathy copy copyThe Walker School is seeking applicants to serve as a graduate assistant for the Office of the Dean at Webster University’s home campus in St. Louis, Mo.  The position is for the 2015-16 academic year.

The individual selected for this position must be accepted into a graduate program at Webster University, must enroll in 9 credit hours per semester and must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.  The Graduate Assistant will receive $12,000 and the equivalent of 50 percent of graduate tuition at Webster’s on-ground rate.  See below for additional information and details regarding how to apply.

2015-16 Graduate Assistant, Walker School

Position Description
• Provide executive level administrative & receptionist support for the Office of the Dean.
• Provide exceptional customer service for internal and external constituents.
• Conduct short and long-term industry research and data collection projects.
• Create reports and surveys and manage/update file databases to include research projects.
• Support and coordinate special projects and event planning.
• Create & proofread daily reports and PowerPoint presentations.
• Run errands on campus to various administrative and academic departments.
• Receive and distribute mail and complete mass mailing projects.

• Current Graduate student at Webster University
• Must be proficient in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
• Excellent written and oral communication skills
• Ability to multi-task and work in a high pressure environment
• Ability to adapt to new technologies and social media
• Business, Marketing or Communications background a plus

Term of appointment:  One (1) academic year
August 15 – May 15 appointment

Course Work:  Must be accepted to a graduate program at Webster University
Must enroll in 9 credit hours of graduate courses per semester
Must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA

Hours of Work: Not to exceed 20 hours per week

Payment:  $12,000 payable in equal installments on a bi-weekly basis*

Scholarship:  Equivalent to 50% of graduate tuition at on-ground rate*

To apply:  Please submit resume and one page cover letter to Caprice Moore at

Position open until filled.

Webster University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action educator and employer. We are committed to maintaining a culturally and academically diverse staff of the highest caliber. We strongly encourage applications from those who identify as diverse in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and/or veteran status.

* Pro-rated based on start date


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Rebecca Spear

Rebecca Spear has been selected for Leadership St. Louis®, one of the most highly-respected leadership development programs in the nation. Spear serves as the director of corporate partnership engagement and global internships for the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University.

Leadership St. Louis was designed by FOCUS St. Louis in 1976.  The program provides community immersion experiences and advanced skill development which enable participants to explore critical issues in the region.

Spear is among 67 individuals chosen from the private, public and nonprofit sectors to participate in the 40th Leadership St. Louis class.  Graduates of the program include CEOs and other corporate senior level executives, business owners, state senators and representatives, mayors, school superintendents and principals, university chancellors and deans, attorneys, and nonprofit executive directors. The common ground under this wide array of participants is a deep and active commitment to community improvement.

“It is exciting for us to invite such a talented and diverse group of community leaders into Leadership St. Louis. Over the next year, they will experience this region in new ways and gain knowledge, skills and connections they can use to make a difference within it,” said Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch, FOCUS St. Louis executive director and director of the Leadership St. Louis program.

Leadership St. Louis is one of seven leadership programs offered by FOCUS St. Louis.  View the complete list of participants and learn more.

Returning to Work After Raising Kids

On June 1, 2015, in Career Insight, by Walker News

After three boys and 15 years outside the job market, Susan decided to go back to work. Like a lot of women in this situation, it took time for her confidence to grow. Her courage and persistence served her well as she pursued a fulfilling position. The process she followed will work for you or anyone wondering what’s next. Knowing what you can do and where you’d like to do it makes the rest of the path clear.

Internal Work

Susan first faced her internal confusion and fears. Delving into her past, she identified accomplishments and the skills she demonstrated before and after starting her family. She continued despite her inner “voices” of doubt and doom which whispered (and sometimes screamed) “Give up! No one will hire you! Who are you kidding?”

She remembered her creative efforts from her short career in marketing, her success in juggling countless tasks to maintain order in a house with children, the joy she felt from teaching and nurturing her sons, and activities she had been drawn toward: Cub Scout den mother, active member of the school P.T.O., and a volunteer reading instructor.

She reached clarity about her skills as a leader, organizer and teacher.

What’s Important? Next, she asked herself what really mattered to her. She felt troubled by the pollution which seemed to close in on them. Her family faced it every day–and couldn’t escape it even on long camping trips. She got in touch with her passion for protecting the environment for her children and future generations. Having that decided, she felt good, but Susan was still terrified because she hadn’t a clue about what to do with this decision.

Givers Gain

Recognizing the importance of contributing first, she volunteered with an environmental agency. Although the routine tasks the office manager initially gave her weren’t usually very stimulating, Susan put her best foot forward. She was always interested, personable, dependable and did impeccable work. So several weeks later, when the group badly needed help organizing their annual convention, Susan stepped up and impressed everyone with her leadership in recruiting, organizing and directing volunteers.

Upgrading Skills/Knowledge

While helping with correspondence and updating the agency’s database, she upgraded her computer skills. She also educated herself on environmental policy, reading voraciously about current issues and talking to agency staff and others about their activities and what other environmental organizations were doing.


The word has become almost trite. Everyone knows you’ve got to do it, yet few do it well. Instead of just passing out resumes and telling everyone she was available for openings, Susan got to know people. She took advantage of opportunities to meet people who came into the office, went to hear environmental speakers and attended events and fundraisers of environmental organizations. She took full advantage of the convention to make new contacts and make sure those she’d met remembered her. As she became a familiar face and became more confident, she let people know about her goals, and got advice on how to achieve them.

Planning for the Future

One contact alerted Susan to a grant-funded position on environmental education. The hiring decision-maker was a woman Susan had met–and impressed–at the convention. Soon, Susan had a position she loved: traveling to area schools teaching and organizing environmental projects. Still, she knows that her position will only last two to three years, and has a plan to advance herself, ultimately to become director of her organization or another one like it.

About the Author:david hults-2014

David Hults is a nationally known career coach and speaker, as well as a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Webster University where he also completed graduate courses toward his MBA. Since 1987, Hults is the author of five books, a CD coaching series and has created the most sought after interview flash card set, which makes the interview simplified and painless. His experience in human resources led him to work for Express Scripts, a Fortune 500 company, as well as one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems, BJC. He has been coaching individuals for more than 20 years on how to break through individual roadblocks while also delivering speeches across the nation discussing how to manage change in careers and organizations today. For more information, visit his website at

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